Updated: Sep 13
According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, our tongues are a powerful and primary diagnostic tool. That’s because, when digestion is working well, it influences every aspect of our health – and while you may not think about it, the tongue is the beginning of the digestive tract!
Explore more on the Saumya Blog, selected top Ayurveda blogs and websites to watch.
If you’re like the majority of people, you probably don’t give your tongue’s appearance much thought at all. After all, western medicine largely ignores the tongue (and the wisdom it offers). But we can make important assessments about our overall health and well-being by observing our tongues’ shape, color, cracks, coating, and more.
From today onward, you’ll never look at your tongue the same way again. Instead, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for this incredible organ and unlock it as a resource to detect bodily imbalances.
Ready to get started? Open wide – let's explore Ayurveda tongue diagnosis!
What is Ayurveda Tongue Diagnosis, Anyways?
Ayurveda tongue diagnosis is part of Ayurveda's multi-fold assessment approach. The tongue tells us about our constitution by revealing our doshic picture. The images below illustrate the different characteristics of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha dosha-type tongues.
Vata Dosha Type Tongues
Pitta Dosha Type Tongues
Kapha Dosha Type Tongues
In addition to providing insight into your unique constitution, the tongue can also be used to identify other bodily imbalances – such as digestive issues, dietary deficiencies, and more.
Below is an Ayurveda tongue map, which illustrates the connection between the areas of the tongue and associated organs. This map is used in Ayurveda tongue diagnosis to assess one’s overall health and pinpoint specific areas of concern.
For example, a white coating present on the back of your tongue, near your tonsils, indicates the presence of ama (toxins) in your colon. In contrast, a coating in the middle of the tongue indicates toxins are present throughout the gastrointestinal area.
What Our Tongues Can Tell Us About Our Overall Health (According to Ayurvedic Wisdom)
Tongues do not get tongue-tied. They speak the truth. To illustrate how the tongue can be used as a diagnostic tool, here are a handful of actual case studies, alongside a description of what their tongues were indicating about their doshic picture and state of health.
Deep cracks such as those shown on this tongue indicate a Vata imbalance. The location of the cracks is also telling, as this indicates which organs or bodily areas have a Vata aggravation. In this case, the center vertical line indicates issues with the spine while the red coloring indicates a Pitta imbalance. Additionally, the outer ridges indicate malabsorption in the digestive system.
Aggravated Vata Dosha
The appearance of multiple cracks, such as those shown on this tongue, indicates chronic Vata aggravations such as anxiety, fear, sleep issues, and nervous system debility. If cracks are located in only one area, it indicates Vata in the correlating organ or area.
Vata Aggravation in Spine or Nervous System
A deep crack running down the center of the tongue may indicate Vata aggravation as strain in the nervous system or spinal stress.
Inflammation, Retention, and Stagnation
A puffy red tongue, such as this example, may indicate inflammation, hypothyroidism, and fluid retention. A “swollen tongue” may indicate stagnant lymph.
Presence of Ama (Bodily Toxins)
A thick white coating on the tongue indicates the presence of ama, or toxins, in the body. In this instance, the client had a parasitic infection, had lost his appetite completely, and was unable to eat properly, as he was reactive to everything. He experienced chronic digestive issues and suffered from lethargy. His appetite returned and he is on his way.
Red spots and white coating on the tongue indicate Pitta imbalance. This client suffered from heavy menstrual cycles, lethargy, mood swings, frequent headaches, difficulty remembering, dry lips, gas, frequent urination, and overall fatigue and stress. Eight weeks after beginning an Ayurvedic treatment, all symptoms subsided and she lost weight, feels inspired, motivated and energized, and reported her mood improved greatly.
Weak Digestive Fire (Agni)
A “boggy tongue” indicates a digestive fire that has been snuffed out. This typically results in a pale, wet, coated, and even swollen tongue depending on what the body type is.
Vatta Aggravation in Colon
Cracks indicate chronic Vata aggravation in the colon and Vata type emotions such as anxiety. This person had been constipated since childhood. Doing much better now!
Poor Absorption and Doshic Imbalances
This Ayurveda tongue diagnosis revealed a thick ama coating in the digestive system, cracks that indicate Vata aggravation, and scallops (sub-optimal nutrient absorption), and the presence of Pitta.
Elevated Pitta and Aggravated Vata
For this client, a puffy red tongue, “swollen tongue” indicated stagnant lymph, high pitta in the digestive system with diarrhea, acne, and Pitta in the mind. Vata aggravation is present, as evidenced by the cracks, and pronounced scallops are present, showing malabsorption of nutrients in the intestines.
Inflammation and Pitta Ama
A puffy red tongue may indicate inflammation, hypothyroidism, fluid retention, and stagnant lymph. Red dots on the surface of your tongue, represents Pitta energy in the plasma and blood tissues, over specific organ areas. The smooth, advancing patches on the tongue affect blood and emotions. Pitta is spreading via blood systemically. The yellowish-white coating indicates Pitta ama.
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How to Assess What Your Tongue Is Telling You
When you are healthy, your tongue will typically be pink in color and moist. The shade of pink can vary, but it will be consistent from the tip to the back of your tongue. When you're in good health and well-balanced, your tongue will be smooth and free from cracks or grooves.
While it's best to consult an expert for Ayurveda Tongue Diagnosis, you can observe plenty on your own. Just head over to your bathroom mirror, stick out your tongue, and take note of what you see. If it helps, take a picture so you can analyze it more closely.
Here are a handful of tongue-related aesthetics you might notice:
Ridged Edges or Scallops
If your tongue appears bumpy with ridged outer edges, this may be an indication your body is not absorbing the nutrients in the digestive tract as it needs to function at an optimal level.
Scalloped Tongue Ayurveda Treatment: Pronounced scallops indicate malabsorption of nutrients in the digestive tract. This client experienced excess Pitta as heartburn, migraines, and recurring cold sores.
Red and Swollen Tongue
According to Ayurveda Tongue Diagnosis, swollen, puffy tongues may be a sign of inflammation from excess Pitta doshas. (Note the strawberry type dots). This can also indicate a Kapha imbalance such as fluid retention or non-optimal functioning of the thyroid.
White Coating (Ama) on the Tongue
If your tongue has a thick white coating on it, this is an indication of ama (toxins) in the body. White coating may appear in individuals with weakened immune systems, but can also be an indicator that ama is present. When ama covers the entire tongue, it may be systemic.
White Tongue Ayurveda Treatment: Clean your tongue every morning with a tongue scraper to remove ama on the tongue and stimulates healthy digestion and elimination. Also, start your morning with a glass of hot water to help your body flush the toxins from your digestive system. To get to the root of the cause of the toxins, book your Ayurveda consultation package today.
If you have a pale tongue (almost like a washed-out or faded pink) this indicates stagnation in your lymph nodes and blood. Typically, when your tongue is pale you will also notice that agni, or digestive strength, is weaker than usual.
Foam on the tongue can correlate with candida (a yeast-like overgrowth). Candida is caused and fed by the prevalence of too much sugar in the diet. If someone has a foamy tongue, it is best to avoid sugar, especially refined sugar.
Black or Brown Coating
Assuming you didn’t just eat chocolate cake or drink a large cup of coffee, brown or black coating on your tongue indicates a significant Vata imbalance and often a history of constipation.
Ayurveda's View of the Tongue: Dosha Governors
According to Ayurveda, there are three sections to the tongue: the front, middle, and back. As with the body as a whole, each section is governed by a dosha.
The front of the tongue is governed by Kapha, the middle is ruled by Pitta, and the back of the tongue is governed by Vata.
As with the body as a whole, the bottom part of the body is governed by Vata (think, legs and walking in other words, movement), the middle by Pitta (think appetite and digestion, in other words, metabolism), and the top by Kapha (think sinuses and mucous or lubrication).
These dosha-governed sections of the tongue correspond to organ systems that reside in the lower, middle, and upper body. Example: the back of the tongue communicates the state of the intestines as that organ is in the Vata area of the body and governed by Vata.
Let's Get These Tongues Wagging: Client Progress Photos
It's often said a picture is worth a thousand words, and we couldn't agree more. The pictures that follow are case studies that clearly illustrate the power of Ayurveda tongue diagnosis. Following a customized Ayurvedic plan, these clients were able to improve their overall health and the tongue shows it.
Case Study #1
As we mentioned earlier, a thick white coating is not something you want to ignore, as it indicates the presence of toxins (ama). Keep in mind, we may have physical and mental ama.
Before Ayurveda, this person suffered from depression and had difficulty thinking. She also suffered from irregular menstrual cycles, often felt tired, fatigued, overwhelmed, and had digestive issues including bloating, waking throughout the night, and a variable appetite.
Just one month into an Ayurvedic plan, she saw her digestive issues resolve, her menstrual cycle began, to re-regulate, and she reported feeling less stressed and more balanced. The white coating on her tongue also thinned significantly, and the pink color came back.
Case Study #2
This client's tongue was puffy and pale prior to starting Ayurvedic treatment. They suffered from liquid bowel movements, indicating poor nutrient absorption and higher Pitta, and also felt fatigued and generally unwell.
After following a 7-day Saumya Ayurveda Home Cleanse, the tongue regained its pink color, and the swelling went down. The client also had a significant change in bowel movements — from runny to solid. This indicates nutrient absorption improved significantly and decreased heat in the digestive tract. She also noted feeling more energized and rested.
Case Study #3
Case Study #4
"I did a 7 Day Home Ayurveda Cleanse. I lost 7 pounds even though I was eating up to 2,000 calories a day. The body brushing and self-oil massage smoothed out cellulite and I lost 3 inches over my entire body. I got the results I wanted, after day three, and with minimal effort. It is amazing what the correctly designed Ayurveda cleanse can do for one’s body and mind. I look and feel better! "
- A.B., White Bear Lake, Minnesota
What Your Tongue Says About Your Health
Ayurveda tongue diagnosis is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that can see far beyond the mouth – straight into the 30 feet of your digestive tract. At Saumya Ayurveda, we provide you with a professional assessment of the health of the digestive tract, as well as overall health.
With expert guidance from Saumya Ayurveda, you’ll discover which herbs, lifestyle tools, and food programs your unique body needs to stay healthy and strong. Book a free phone consultation today. Share your concerns, ask questions, and learn how you and Veena will work together to help you feel your best.
“Veena has literally changed my life. I was struggling with mental and physical symptoms that my doctor had no answer for. I thought I was going crazy and just making symptoms up.
With Veena’s guidance, with herbs and diet changes, I soon realized that my symptoms were very real. After making the changes, I made small victories along the way, and became better with each appointment with her.
Now almost 6 months later, I am a completely different person. I still have some things to work on, but with Veena’s help, I know I will be able to take control of my health and not leave it to Western medicine that was giving me little to no help and covering up my symptoms with another medication.
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Working with Veen has been the best decision I have made for my health. You won’t be disappointed!”
-- Maria Fumagalli, San Diego, California
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We all want to be heard, understood, and cared for as whole beings, not a set of isolated symptoms. True health is more than the absence of disease, which is why Western medicine so often leaves us feeling hopeless and unseen.
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Veena is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and meditation teacher, and monk.
She is President Emeritus of the Meditation Center and former staff member of the Minnesota Institute of Ayurveda.
Veena fell in love with the traditional medicine used in her family’s home learning herbal remedies at her grandmother's knee. She remains passionate for over 30 years, helping clients feel their best physically, emotionally, and spiritually with Ayurveda.
Veena individualizes treatment plans to each person, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach, so it fits your life and becomes woven into your daily life, naturally.